On the 17th April 2020, 9 years and 9 days after moving in, we moved out of our bricks and mortar house and into an unknown and uncertain future. A move had been in the pipeline for the last two years and at last it happened, but not quite in the way we had planned and most definitely not in a way we could ever have imagined it.
The last two years have seen us change our lives dramatically. Since applying to Erwin Hymer Group for the loan of a motorhome for a year and subsequently touring in it for 18 months, nothing is the same. July 2018 saw us locking up the door to our home office for the last time and embarking on the adventure of our lives. Our business was/is online, so with a few minor tweaks we were able to run a scaled down version as we travelled. Our house was on the market and during our time away we accepted 3 separate offers only for them all to fall through for one reason or another.
Finally at the end of February this year it seemed like it was actually going to happen. Our sale was progressing and we allowed ourselves to believe it and actually get excited for the first time. We hoped to be out by mid April and free to set off on another European trip including a weekend with Laika in Italy in mid May. Our attitude to buying a new home was flexible and relaxed. It wasn’t a priority and the thought of being bill free and travelling again with no property ties felt quite exciting and liberating. We’d started sorting out our unwanted clutter, sorting out some for the dump and putting aside things to take to the charity shops. We’d decided to sell a lot of our furniture so I’d photographed, measured and prepared descriptions for everything, ready to list on Ebay once we’d exchanged and knew the sale was going through. But then everything changed … the thing that’s changed all our lives, Coronavirus.
Due to Covid-19 and the lockdown being announced all those options were no longer available. Charity shops couldn’t take donations, dumps were closed and with social distancing and no unnecessary travel allowed nobody was buying on Ebay. Not only that but removal companies were no longer operating and our house sale started to look more and more precarious. Our buyer changed the proposed exchange date 3 times, each occasion causing our frazzled nerves and stress levels to be tested to their limits. Forget Plan B, by now we were on about Plan G! Scouring the internet for options, we found a firm who would come and take our belongings away, packing them into a crate as they went and then storing them until we wanted them redelivered, all at a very reasonable fee. Just 3 days later, they shut down too. This left us with just one viable option if we wanted to go ahead – do it ourselves.
In the midst of all this and just 5 days before we moved out, it was Julian’s birthday. Last year we were basking in sunshine in the beautiful town of Castelo de Vide in Portugal. This year in lockdown! Another birthday never to be forgotten. Presents would have to wait but we did have chocolate cake which I managed to bake in a kitchen with barely a spare inch of work space visible. Not sure how I managed it but where there’s a will there’s a way and there was definitely a strong will for chocolate cake (always is!).
Being able to buy the motorhome from Laika, was totally dependent on our house sale so we were determined to see it through. Our solicitor advised that as ours was a simple sale with no chain either side we could still go ahead … one one proviso, that we must exchange and complete on the same day! Cue more frazzled nerves an extra dose of stress, more worry and several sleepless nights. This way we would have no guarantee it would actually happen until it happened. We would have to pack up our entire house ready to vacate without the assurance that we had already exchanged. It was a surreal time, amid an already worrying and weird time and over the course of a week we lurched from frantically packing until we could pack no more to sitting down doing nothing wondering if we were just wasting our time and making a big mistake. Imagine if we got everything packed up and into storage and then it didn’t go through. ‘Nightmare’ didn’t even begin to describe what an outcome that would be, but carry on we did and a plan was hatched.
We sourced a nearby storage facility, hired ourselves a van and got to work. All our worldly goods including items pre-sorted for charity, Ebay and the dump would have to be stored! The thought of paying to store our unwanted things seemed both ridiculous and a bit galling but we had no other choice. We set to work packing up what few proper cardboard boxes we could find and stuffing everything else into anything else we could get our hands on that could conceivably act as a packing case. Furniture and beds were disassembled where possible, cupboards emptied and clothing sorted. Our garden paraphernalia went to a friends’ shed which was a huge help. All our essential and sentimental items were packed up into Buzz and for the last 2 nights before moving out we slept in there. The house was in such complete chaos that the motorhome was like a calm cocoon that we could retreat into at the end of the day. A welcome escape for the evening devoid of all the bedlam and boxes scattered all over every inch of the house.
On the odd occasion we must admit we asked ourselves ‘what are we doing?’, ‘are we mad?’ But we knew we wanted to move out and if we didn’t do it then it might take months or even years before we got another chance. We kept thoughts of the future to a bare minimum. There would be plenty of time for thinking later. Our heads were so full it just wasn’t possible to think or try to plan ahead. As days went by, the severity of the Coronavirus situation gradually became clearer and it became blindingly obvious that we, along with everybody else on the planet, wouldn’t be travelling anywhere anytime soon. Except to our new, temporary location until restrictions are lifted.
We did feel slightly conspicuous when we set off. Firstly a motorhome, and then a car following with bikes on the back and sunbeds on the roof! I’m sure to anyone looking on if would have appeared we were going on holiday. If only!
So where were we moving to? Not Italy and another amazing tour of Europe no, but Eastbourne, where I (M) grew up and my parents still live. With campsites closed in the UK and Europe we’ve read numerous tales of full-time motorhomers struggling to find safe places to stay and many are on driveways of friends and family. Thankfully for us, my parents have a driveway just long enough to squeeze in a 7m motorhome and we also have EHU, fresh water and waste disposal to hand. In theory we could isolate for 14 days and then move into the house but my dad is clinically extremely vulnerable and not even allowed out for a walk. We do go out walking every day and very occasionally visit a shop so therefore made the decision not to go in the house to keep both him and my mum as safe as possible. There is no way in the world we would want to risk their health. The good thing is that we can chat to them in the garden from a safe distance which is really nice for us all. Again, if we hadn’t sold the house I really don’t know when we would have been able to see them again.
So for now we are houseless but definitely not homeless. Our house has been sold and a weight lifted from our shoulders and now Buzz is home and providing everything we need. There is no doubt that our extended travels and living in the motorhome already have eased this transition for us and it’s so far so good. But what’s it like living in a motorhome in lockdown without actually travelling and where do we go from here? Find out in our next post … coming soon.